Archive for 2007


i finished the semester today!!!! ya! it was a terrific class followed by the most terrific day:)
this one is short because my eyes are stinging...because i am a bit tired:)
over and out.
ps...tomorrow i am delivering my application packet to ucla!

almost there!!!

december is here!
christmas is in the air...really, i have been trying to avoid it at all costs due to the fact that i have a huge paper to the end of today. the closer christmas seems to be, the less time i seem to have before the semester is over.
i have been working on a paper for my darwin is perhaps one of the greatest classes i have taken thus far. my paper is dealing with the influences of darwin on twentieth century germany, more specifically the holocaust. i have found that there is a belief that darwin himself was responsible for the horrendous events of the holocaust. that he is responsible for the murder of over six million jews. darwin is most known for his theory of evolution which is possible throught the process of natural selection. natural selection is the idea that the strong will survive while the weak perish. when darwin addressed this idea, he used many different examples, and yes, man kind was one of his examples. we need to remember that 19th century western civilization was all about conquering the unconquered. it was a time of discovery and one thing that many travelers came across where unrecognized tribes. these people were unable to communicate in a way europeans saw fit, so naturally, they were labeled "inferior". to many like darwin, according to the law of nature, it was just natural that the tribes would not win in the battle of savage vs. civilization.
by the time Hitler came to power, he had already been exposed to evolution and considered himself one of its most loyal supporters. hitler believed greatly in the extinction of the weaker races in order to preserve the ultimate superior race, and that race being the german people. he was able to take darwin's theory of evolution and fit it perfectly into what he was going to accomplish in germany. eugenics in germany was the result of the darwinian influence on hitler. a eugenics program was already under way even before the nazis took over. upon their arrival, a new set of laws to push jews out of everything and anything was set into motion. jews were released from their work places, forbidden to marry within the aryan race, stripped of the right to acquire knowledge through education, along with a number of other things. these laws are notoriously known as the nuremberg laws. this was the most successful way to weed jews out of anything german and yes indeed, they were successful. jews were compared to the lowest of life forms, the sewer rat, and in propaganda films, germans were told that extermination was absolutely necessary for superiority's sake.
genocide on yes, it is true that darwin dealt greatly with issues on superiority and inferiority but no one man is responsible for the acts of another, especially in this case. to try to put the blame of hitler on darwin's shoulders seems ludicrous. i know, call me crazy but that just seems crazy.
back to paper writing...


so, as i said in an earlier blog, i had the wonderful privilege of seeing feist earlier this week and boy, was it incredible...absolutely. and these are photos...

so, i just realized i never posted any other photos from my time in romania...lame...and i guess liar thus far. i will get around to it when i find time to sit down for half an hour to upload photos. i was thinking today...the past few days, about how things sometimes do not go a certain way. well, the way we would expect things to go. at times, we formulate these "perfect" life plans without thinking twice about what it is we are doing. i know this is true because i do it and if i am the only one, i suppose that means...well, i do not know what it means. sooner or later, we all face the fact that things sometimes are not truly meant to be the way we expect them to be. if we are living in accordance with the will of our beautiful Creator, He holds the reigns to our lives which ultimately means, He decides....and in His timing. one thing i am certain we all struggle with in patience. well, that is pretty key in this whole thing because our timing is always way off:) on top of things just going differently, sometimes, something unexpected will come along leaving us completely "huh?" well, i don't have any answers...i suppose it is one of those "be still" situations...

super duper:)

so, i realize it has been quite some time since my last blog. well, i almost destroyed this thing the last time i tried to change a few things so maybe i have been avoiding it for fear of destruction. this however is most def. blog worthy. last night i witnessed the most beautiful show. a dear friend took me to see feist, who happens to be one of my favorites...she is just amazing. the music was just almost too beautiful. it is wonderful when we are able to witness musicians in their truest essence, none of that pish posh some "performers" last night was fantastic! i did not take any photos but my friend did so as soon as i receive them, i will post.


so, i did something weird to my blog today...i do not know what i am doing sometimes. i just wanted to change some of the information and somehow it restarted the whole according to the blog history, i am a new member as of today:) i lost some of my blogs in the process of whatever i did, everything before july, i think, sigh....sad day, but i brought it upon myself. anywho, i will be posting a few more photos from my time in romania:)


i went to ucla on thursday and it was amazing! they were hosting an informational session for their informational studies program. initially, i thought the program was not for me. they were talking about computer programs and other computer related things and that is def what i am NOT interested in:) after they speakers filled us in on the basic information, they asked about our interests and this is where things improved. i told them where my focus is...the holocaust and archives and they said it is absolutely doable in their phd program....and inside i went "woo hoo!!" i am going to apply for the phd program at information studies...i do not know if i have any chances of getting in but i figure i should at least give it a go:) i will also be applying for programs at:
university of illinois
university of michigan
university of chicago
i know, it is interesting that the other three are further east but what is one to do when all the good archival programs are east?
apply and move east:)

Holocaust in Ukraine...

this man, he is doing something very should read this.

The French priest Patrick Desbois and members of his team walking to what used to be a well in Bogdanovka, Ukraine, where many Jews were thrown dead or still alive. (Efrem Lukatsky/The Associated Press)

'Confessions' document Holocaust in Ukraine

His subjects were mostly children and teenagers at the time, terrified witnesses to mass slaughter. Some were forced to work at the bottom rung of the Nazi Germany killing machine - as the diggers of mass graves, as cooks who fed Nazi soldiers, as seamstresses who mended clothes stripped from the Jews before execution.

The witnesses live today in rural poverty, many without running water or heat, nearing the end of their lives. So Patrick Desbois has been quietly seeking them out, roaming the back roads and forgotten fields of Ukraine, hearing their stories and searching for the unmarked common graves. He knows that they are an unparalleled source to document the murder of 1.5 million Ukrainian Jews, shot dead and buried throughout Ukraine.

He is neither a historian nor an archeologist, but a French Catholic priest. And his most powerful tools are his unadorned style - and his clerical collar.

The Nazis began killing the Jews in Ukraine following the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. But with few exceptions, most notably the 1941 slaughter of nearly 34,000 Jews in the Babi Yar ravine in Kiev, much of that history has gone untold.

Knocking on doors unannounced, the 52-year-old cleric seeks to unlock the memories of Ukrainian villagers the way he might take confessions one by one in church.

"At first, sometimes, people don't believe I'm a priest," said Desbois in an interview during the past week. "I have to use simple words and listen to these horrors - without any judgment. I cannot react to the horrors that pour out. If I react, the stories will stop."

Over four years, Desbois has videotaped more than 700 witnesses and bystanders and identified more than 500 common graves of Jews, about 70 percent of them previously unknown. He also has gathered material evidence of the execution of Jews from 1941 to 1944, the "Holocaust of bullets," as the mass murder is called.

Often his subjects ask Desbois to stay for a meal and to pray, as if to somehow bless their acts of remembrance. He does not judge those who either willingly or unwillingly carried out tasks for the Nazis, and Holocaust scholars say that is one reason he is so effective.

"If a Jewish taker-of-testimony comes, what would people think - that this is someone coming to accuse," said Paul Shapiro, director of the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.

"When a priest comes, people open up. He brings to the subject a kind of legitimacy, a sense that it's O.K. to talk about the past. There's absolution through confession."

Unlike Poland and Germany, where the Holocaust remains visible through the searing symbols of the extermination camps, the horror in Ukraine was hidden away, first by the Nazis, then by the Soviets.

"There was nothing to see in Ukraine because people were shot to death with guns," said Thomas Eymond-Laritaz, president of the Victor Pinchuk Foundation, the largest Ukrainian philanthropic organization. "That's why Father Desbois is so important."

The foundation helped underwrite a conference on the subject at the Sorbonne University in Paris during the past week - the first to bring together Western and Ukrainian scholars - and has begun to fund some of Desbois's projects.

Some of Desbois's research - including video interviews, wartime documents, photographs of newly uncovered mass graves, rusty bullets and shell casings and personal possessions of the victims - is on display for the first time at an exhibit at the Memorial of the Shoah in Paris.

The exhibit shows, for example, the 15 mass graves of Jews in a commune called Busk that Desbois and his team discovered and began excavating after interviewing several witnesses. There is also a black-and-white photo from 1942 that shows a German police officer shooting naked Jewish women lying in a ravine in the Rivne region.

Desbois travels with a team that includes two interpreters, a photographer, a ballistics specialist, a mapping expert and a note-taker. Desbois records all the stories on video, sometimes holding the microphone himself, asking questions in simple language and a flat tone.

In Buchach, Ukraine, in 2005, Regina Skora told Desbois that as a young girl she witnessed executions.

"Did the people know they were going to be killed?" Desbois asked her.


"How did they react?"

"They just walked, that's all. If someone couldn't walk, they told him to lie on the ground and shot him in the back of the neck."

Vera Filonok said she watched from the porch of her mud hut in 1941 as thousands of Jews were shot, thrown into a pit and set on fire. Those who were still alive writhed "like flies and worms," she said.

There are stories of how the Nazis drummed on empty buckets to avoid having to listen to the screams of their victims, how Jewish women were made sex slaves of the Nazis and then executed. One witness said that as a 6-year-old, he hid and watched as his best friend was shot to death.

Other witnesses described how the Nazis were allowed only one bullet to the back per victim and that the Jews sometimes were buried alive. "One witness told of how the pit moved for three days, how it breathed," Desbois recalled.

Desbois became haunted by the history of the Nazis in Ukraine as a child growing up on the family farm in Burgundy, France. His paternal grandfather, who was sent to a prison camp for French soldiers in Rava-Ruska on the Ukrainian side of the border with Poland, told the family nothing about the experience.

But he confessed to his relentlessly curious grandson, "For us it was bad, for 'others' it was worse."

After teaching mathematics as a French government employee in West Africa and working in Calcutta for three months with Mother Teresa, he joined the priesthood.

He started as a parish priest, and studied Judaism and learned Hebrew during a stint in Israel. He asked to work with Gypsies, ex-prisoners or Jews, and was appointed as a bridge to the French Jewish community.

It was on a tour in 2002, while visiting Rava-Ruska, that he asked the mayor of the town where the Jews were buried. The mayor said he did not know.

"I knew that 10,000 Jews had been killed there, so it was impossible that he didn't know," Desbois recalled.

A year later, a new mayor took the priest to a forest where about 100 villagers had gathered in a semi-circle, waiting to tell their stories and to help uncover the graves buried beneath their feet.

He met other mayors and parish priests who helped find more witnesses. In 2004, Desbois created Yahad-In Unum, an organization devoted to Christian-Jewish understanding, operating from a office in Paris.

Only one-third of Ukraine has been covered so far, and it will take several more years to finish the research. A notice at the exit of the Paris exhibit asks that any visitor with information about victims of Nazi atrocities in Ukraine leave a note or send an e-mail message.

"People talk as if these things happened yesterday, as if 60 years didn't exist," Desbois said. "Some ask, 'Why are you coming so late? We have been waiting for you.' "


music...i just love it. if there is something i can not get enough of it is music. i was listening to this song the other day and it is just beautiful.
music, among other things, is capable of communicating and that is just beautiful...

just lovely...

in the news...

yesterday, iranian president mahmoud ahmadinejad spoke at columbia and well, that was interesting to read about. i myself am not a huge fan of the iranian president...due to a number of obvious reasons, especially his adamant support of holocaust deniers, but i did find it interesting that he was axed in the introduction offered by the president of the university. um...even if he is the president of iran, i think it is common courtesy that you do not insult a guest and well, he was invited to speak so that makes him a guest:) it was interesting that the university head made this country sound a little holier than we are all about love and justice and community and truth...ahahaha:) he seemed to think he had every right to slap the iranian president over the wrist in a very public arena. i have no opinion...i guess i am just stating the obvious...he is not right but neither are we in many things. i do believe we have plenty of unresolved issues here. plenty of things that make us very black sheep to the rest of the world. it just seems like we need to adapt a new way of dealing with "unlikables" here because if we don't WE will continue to be the "unlikables":)

anywho, he also addressed the UN today. i do not know if anyone tuned in to watch and hear what he had to share but you missed out if you didn't. well, he talked about religion quite a bit, his beliefs and such. he even talked about love and peace. and then he said the most interesting thing. he said his country just wants to have a "peaceful civilian nuclear program"...ahahaha:) oh, i did smile and laugh just a bit. since when is the creation of nuclear weaponry considered a peaceful civilian activity?

yesterday also, the UN hosted a climate summit in preparation for the real thing coming this december, where countries will bind themselves, commit themselves to bettering the world. it was a brilliant idea, i think. it presented an opportunity to discuss the crisis engulfing this planet. 150 nations attended the summit...the US president decided he would sit this one out [side note: al gore and arnold schwarzenegger were there to show they supported the cause]. the US is going to be hosting its own climate summit at the end of this week...i guess "voluntary climate change" is the approach it will be taking. hmmm... i am certain no country is looking forward to the proposed limits of gas emissions but all seem to be looking at the bigger picture...preservation of our already decaying planet. there is a world movement in the works to help slow down the damage already done to the environment. it is incredible that so many nations are willing to put everything aside for the cause of saving the planet... it makes sense though:) i don't know. it just seems like this country should want to take the necessary steps to create a more stable environment for the future generations but the actions being taken by our heads are not showing it.

side note: yesterday, myanmar experienced the biggest anti-government protest since 1988. monks decided to stand up for themselves and for the people by creating a peaceful protest. they chanted "democracy" as they marched through the streets. this protest was calling for peace for the people. freedom from government suppression. the monks were beaten and arrested for choosing to fight for their freedom. oh humanity...

ps...just in case you are not aware, "magna carta for sale" is being auctioned off in december for 20-30 million dollars. interesting...

opening a letter...

i just received this article from a friend and thought to share it.

this is why archival studies seems like a worthy pursuit.

In the Shadow of Horror, SS Guardians Frolic

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Karl Höcker, adjutant to the commandant of Auschwitz, and SS auxiliaries relaxing at a recreation lodge near the camp.

Article Tools Sponsored By
Published: September 19, 2007

WASHINGTON, Sept. 18 — Last December, Rebecca Erbelding, a young archivist at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, opened a letter from a former United States Army intelligence officer who said he wanted to donate photographs of Auschwitz he had found more than 60 years ago in Germany.

Ms. Erbelding was intrigued: Although Auschwitz may be the most notorious of the Nazi death camps, there are only a small number of known photos of the place before its liberation in 1945. Some time the next month, the museum received a package containing 16 cardboard pages, with photos pasted on both sides, and their significance quickly became apparent.

As Ms. Erbelding and other archivists reviewed the album, they realized they had a scrapbook of sorts of the lives of Auschwitz's senior SS officers that was maintained by Karl Höcker, the adjutant to the camp commandant. Rather than showing the men performing their death camp duties, the photos depicted, among other things, a horde of SS men singing cheerily to the accompaniment of an accordionist, Höcker lighting the camp's Christmas tree, a cadre of young SS women frolicking and officers relaxing, some with tunics shed, for a smoking break.

In all there are 116 pictures, beginning with a photo from June 21, 1944, of Höcker and the commandant of the camp, Richard Baer, both in full SS regalia. The album also contains eight photos of Josef Mengele, the camp doctor notorious for participating in the selections of arriving prisoners and bizarre and cruel medical experiments. These are the first authenticated pictures of Mengele at Auschwitz, officials at the Holocaust museum said.

The photos provide a stunning counterpoint to what up until now has been the only major source of preliberation Auschwitz photos, the so-called Auschwitz Album, a compilation of pictures taken by SS photographers in the spring of 1944 and discovered by a survivor in another camp. Those photos depict the arrival at the camp of a transport of Hungarian Jews, who at the time made up the last remaining sizable Jewish community in Europe. The Auschwitz Album, owned by Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust museum, depicts the railside selection process at Birkenau, the area where trains arrived at the camp, as SS men herded new prisoners into lines.

The comparisons between the albums are both poignant and obvious, as they juxtapose the comfortable daily lives of the guards with the horrific reality within the camp, where thousands were starving and 1.1 million died.

For example, one of the Höcker pictures, shot on July 22, 1944, shows a group of cheerful young women who worked as SS communications specialists eating bowls of fresh blueberries. One turns her bowl upside down and makes a mock frown because she has finished her portion.

On that day, said Judith Cohen, a historian at the Holocaust museum in Washington, 150 new prisoners arrived at the Birkenau site. Of that group, 21 men and 12 women were selected for work, the rest transported immediately to the gas chambers.

Those killings were part of the final frenetic efforts of the Nazis to eliminate the Jews of Europe and others deemed undesirable as the war neared its end. That summer the crematoriums broke down from overuse and some bodies had to be burned in open pits. A separate but small group of known preliberation photos were taken clandestinely of those burnings.

Auschwitz was abandoned and evacuated on Jan. 18, 1945, and liberated by Soviet forces on Jan. 27. Many of the Höcker photos were taken at Solahütte, an Alpine-style recreation lodge the SS used on the far reaches of the camp complex alongside the Sola River.

Though they as yet have no plans to exhibit the Höcker album photos, curators at the Holocaust Memorial Museum have created an online display of them on the museum's Web site ( that will be available this week. In many cases they have contrasted the Höcker images with those from the Auschwitz Album. In one, SS women alight from a bus at Solahütte for a day of recreation; meanwhile, in a picture from the Auschwitz Album taken at about the same time, haggard and travel-weary women and children get off a cattle car at the camp.

Museum curators have avoided describing the album as something like "monsters at play" or "killers at their leisure." Ms. Cohen said the photos were instructive in that they showed the murderers were, in some sense, people who also behaved as ordinary human beings. "In their self-image, they were good men, good comrades, even civilized," she said.

Sarah J. Bloomfield, the museum's director, said she believed that other undiscovered caches of photos or documents concerning the Holocaust existed in attics and might soon be lost to history.

The donor, who had asked to remain anonymous, was in his 90s when he contacted the museum, and he died this summer. He told the museum's curators that he found the photo album in a Frankfurt apartment where he lived in 1946.

The photos of the Auschwitz Album were discovered by Lili Jacob, a Hungarian Jew who was deported in May 1944 to Auschwitz, near Krakow in Poland. She was transferred to another camp, Dora-Mittelbau in Germany, where she discovered the pictures in a bedside table in an abandoned SS barracks.

She was stunned to recognize pictures of herself, her rabbi and her brothers aged 9 and 11, both of whom she later discovered had been gassed immediately after arrival.

Höcker fled Auschwitz before the camp's liberation. When he was captured by the British he was carrying false documents identifying him as a combat soldier. After the 1961 trial of Adolf Eichmann in Israel, West German authorities tracked down Höcker in Engershausen, his hometown, where he was working as a bank official.

He was convicted of war crimes and served seven years before his release in 1970, after which he was rehired by the bank. Höcker died in 2000 at 89.

going to camp!...part 2:)

once we arrived in cluj, we had a day to do laundry and off to camp! aura and i were invited to participate in a camp for romanian youth while i was in was fantastic. the term "youth" is different in romania...they consider you youth for a very long time. i am not certain as to why but that is just how it works. so, the age ranged from 14 to 30, which made for a very interesting time:) aura and i were given the task of translating! it was quite the challenge, a good one:) the camp was held in sucevita, a mountain community in romania.

it was a fantastic week. we were encouraged to build community and that worked wonderfully. we spent time together everyday, reading scripture, doing music, visiting monasteries, eating, praying, it was wonderful. i was reminded of why i love community so much! because we are called to love and to build relationship and it is so necessary. being up there, away from everything, my vision was very clear...brilliant. i mind was consumed with thoughts about tradition. i love it, but not when it is empty and as we went to the different monasteries, i witnessed a great deal of emptiness. i love the different church traditions we participate in as followers. but i want to participate in these things as a result of the beckoning love of our Father, not unmotivated ritualism. that is something i saw throughout the country... a lack of spiritual motivation. so anywho, here are a few photos from our time at camp:)

group photo:)
these photos are from sucevita monastery. it was built between 1583 and 1601 and it is just beautiful. it has been wonderfully preserved...the coloring is just beautiful. restoration is currently taking place on the walls inside...

more photos of monasteries and other neat happenings soon...

fun times in romania...part 1:)

after a couple days in bucharest, aura and i took a trip to cluj to visit the family. bucharest is ok, def not my favorite place in the world. cluj is pretty terrific...i am glad i can call it home:) this year was a little different from the last because it rained almost the entire time we were there...but no worries, we had tons of fun with the family. i have the cutest cousins. when i first met them, they were a little shy, but aura and i managed to break them out of their so called "shells":) i remember the first time i met them and can i just say, it was instant love, they did not need in any way to convince me, i just loved them. they are so sweet and full of kisses and just terrific:)

cousin chris...
us and the cousins
aura, me, cousin and husband:)
and cousins:)


our last night in eretria was pretty terrific...
we were lucky enough to snap a few photos with the lovely brown ladies...:)
the isthmus in corinth...

the greek flag...i like it.
athens in the evening...terrace view
me and aura after a very long day at the acropolis...:)
on the way to the acropolis...
the propylaea...
a nice street somewhere in athens...

athens was interesting. there are many unpleasant things about the city but when you find yourself at a place like mars hill, perhaps the acropolis, or even the temple of zeus, it is not so bad. before leaving for romania, aura, myself, and a few of her teammates headed into athens for a few days. we were able to visit a few places, some listed above, that i only hoped to see some day. it was pure delight visiting these places...

oh, what fun:)

looking back:)

on a delightful trip:) our bungalows
a nice walk to the greece
greek owls are pretty neat:)
enjoying dessert with two lovely ladies:)

i am thinking greece this summer is a terrific place to begin since it was such a wonderful experience. i was there with my big sister and a group of fun people and we had a neat time. we spent the first nine days or so in a town called eretria and this place has it if you are interested:) it was just delightful. we stayed in bungalows walking distance from the aegean sea. i spent most of my time in eretria playing with five and six year olds and yes, it was fun:) we played dress up and swam in the sea. the kids, parents, the community were beautiful...

night time in greece

memorizing becoming more difficult...:)
my first day in greece:)

oh boy...

enjoy a nice cup of tea:)

so i lost my blog...sad day...
well, i suppose i will just have to start a new one.

happy days ahead:)